There's an Aldermanic debate tonight. It's at DePaul. Four Democrats will argue that they have what it takes to fix the city's problems.
Spoiler alert: They don't.
But that does not absolve us of the responsibility to pick one of them. Here are the choices:
Michele Smith, incumbent. Alderman Smith would not have drawn such opposition had she been doing a good job. She has botched the Children's development, voted in lock step with the Mayor, and irritated just about everyone. To her credit, in her Tribune questionnaire she talks about controlling spending, and in city council she voted against the minimum wage increase. But on TIFs, pensions, and vacant storefronts, she hasn't the remotest clue. No.
Jen Kramer is an affable person, but her career has been straight machine Democrat. The Daley administration moved her from job to job over the years, and she shows no inclination to buck the system. Her Tribune questionnaire answers are devoid of substance. She would sink into the group of 40-odd rubber-stamp Alderman and never surface again. No.
Jerry Quandt is similarly affable. But when I asked him how we would tackle the city's financial problems, he said "The corporations that want to locate here should pay their fair share." In a DNAinfo article, he said "It's going to take solutions that probably will entail increasing taxes in some form or fashion." He describes himself as center-right, but not with positions like that. No.
Caroline Vickrey is a community organizer. But unlike Barack Obama, her positions have had actual responsibilities. Her policy positions are a mixed bag. She gets it on cutting spending and the need for defined-contribution pensions. She's good on corruption. She doesn't get it on TIFs or charter schools. Her position on taxes is murky: "I do not think that Chicagoans can tolerate any increases to property taxes," but "...new sources of revenue should be explored." Caroline is not a Republican and isn't with us on some important issues. Her willingness to take steps to get spending under control and oppose the machine, though, speaks well of her. Maybe.
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Does your opinion, as a Republican, matter?
In the last election, Bruce Rauner won 50% of the ward, and Tom Cross and Judy Baar Topinka both won 45%.
More than that, the candidates we recruited this year did well in the ward:
Calonder 46% 5 precincts
Linares 42% 37 precincts
Hakalir 42% 1 precinct
With a vote share that large, and four Democrats to split the Democrat vote, guess who decides who the Alderman will be? That's right: we do. Republicans.
I urge you to attend tonight's aldermanic debate (or the candidate's night at Old Town Triangle on Thursday at 7:00 pm) and decide for yourself. Ask hard questions about our issues: spending, taxes, pensions, and corruption. And let the candidates know that they'd better listen to Republicans in the ward if they want to win the election.